Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Calling Down Your Muse

My muse is nothing if not unpredictable. She strikes without warning at the most inconvenient times, such as when I’m driving and have no way to write, but she rarely appears when I sit down at my computer. I’ve spent enough hours staring at a blank screen to have written the Lord of the Rings. (That’s when the siren call of Spider Solitaire lures me in.)
I once advised students to type a sentence, any sentence, and then begin editing it to call up their muse. You know, Mary had a little lamb. . . . Then you begin making changes. How about a more modern name, one with a little sass? Jinx. Okay, that could work. Next, why a lamb? Is that the image for your heroine? Let’s give her a Mustang—a 5 litre V8 that pumps out a smoking 412, to be exact (thank you, Ford). And surely you can come up with a stronger verb than “had.” Are you getting the idea?

You can do this with a sentence you’ve written too. Here’s one of mine, obviously written on the muse’s day off: Creeping forward, the two boys shined the flashlight into their secret cave, a narrow cavity behind the crumbling brick wall of the apartment house basement, checking for rats or signs of discovery.

How do you call down your muse? Any tricks you'd like to share?

1 comment:

Polly said...

My muse had abandoned me until yesterday. And now I can't shut it down. You're right. So unpredictable. I hope it stays with me for a while. Like a few months.